Martinez urges patience as Belgium lose

Spain's David Silva (left) celebrating his goal with Sergio Busquets during the friendly match against Belgium on Thursday. Silva scored both goals in the 2-0 win, which will be a boost before their first World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein.
Spain's David Silva (left) celebrating his goal with Sergio Busquets during the friendly match against Belgium on Thursday. Silva scored both goals in the 2-0 win, which will be a boost before their first World Cup qualifier against Liechtenstein.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

BRUSSELS • It was a game for the new coaches and Basque Jolen Lopetegui turned out to be the winner over his counterpart Roberto Martinez.

Lopetegui's Spain earned a World Cup qualifying boost by beating Belgium 2-0 in an international friendly on Thursday, thanks to a David Silva double.

Both sides were on the rebound from disappointing Euro 2016 campaigns with new coaches Martinez and Lopetegui.

On his first outing in the Belgium hot seat, former Everton boss Martinez asked for patience from the fans.

"You can't expect major change in just three days and this result has no real meaning," he said.

"What I do want to see, though, is passion and pride in wearing the national team jersey."

However, his side had produced just one shot on target during the 90 minutes and looked a pale imitation of even the team that fell to Wales in the Euro quarter-finals.

Spain begin their World Cup qualifiers at home against Liechtenstein on Monday while Belgium travel to Cyprus for their own opener.

Another new coach, Italy's Giampiero Ventura, also suffered defeat in his first game at the hands of Euro 2016 runners-up France in a friendly on Thursday.

The Italian coach handed AC Milan teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma his debut but began his reign with a 3-1 defeat by the French in Bari.

Goals from Manchester United striker Anthony Martial, his first for his country, and Arsenal's Olivier Giroud either side of Graziano Pelle's 21st-minute strike gave France a 2-1 half-time lead.

After Donnarumma replaced Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon for the second period, the 17-year-old made one impressive stop before making his first major error for the national side.

Barely 10 minutes before the final whistle, Donnarumma came off his line at his near post to anticipate a Layvin Kurzawa drive across the Italian goalmouth, only for the Paris Saint-Germain left-back's strike to spin into the far corner of the net for his first international goal.

Ventura admitted that he was "fairly satisfied" with his side's performance given he had spent "only three days working with the squad".

He also gave Donnarumma a gentle hint that he could be well on the way to replacing Buffon in the near future.

"He's a player with huge potential. I wasn't going to bring him with us just to sit on the bench," said the 68-year-old coach.

Italy begin their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign on Monday away to Israel in Haifa. France will travel to Belarus on Tuesday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2016, with the headline 'Martinez urges patience as Belgium lose'. Print Edition | Subscribe